In the 1730s, Handel went from being the leading voice of Italian opera in London to being a composer of immensely popular English-language oratorios. This transition, however, was not all smooth. Although “Israel in Egypt” wasn’t Handel’s first oratorio, it was the first to be set entirely to a biblical text, taken from the book of Exodus by future “Messiah” collaborator Charles Jennens. It was also Handel’s first oratorio to feature an important role for the chorus. The audience wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, and Handel put the work through countless revisions throughout his remaining years. “Israel in Egypt” features some of Handel’s most colorful writing—particularly when God rains various plagues upon the Egyptians and the music cleverly depicts buzzing locusts and leaping frogs.